Three games is a small sample size, but Noah Juulsen has shown great poise since being inserted into the Montreal Canadiens lineup.
Juulsen was in a groove in his last few appearances for the Laval Rocket, earning four points in his last five American Hockey League games. While he hasn't picked up a point in three NHL contests, that confidence from the minors has seemingly transitioned with him to Montreal.
The 20-year old has displayed sensible decision making in the defensive zone, his puck movement, and his physical play. All the while playing alongside a more senior partner in Karl Alzner, whom he praised for his guidance and encouragement following the 1-0 shootout loss to the Philadelphia Flyers on Monday night.
While Juulsen wasn't as physical Monday as he was last week versus the Rangers—he had four hits in that game—his puck handling stood out. He cautiously took his time before making a next pass to a teammate and didn't give the puck away. Juulsen also contributed two takeaways against a Flyers team who lost the giveaway battle to the Canadiens 11-9, especially from its own defencemen.
Finally, he saw the ice in overtime for the Canadiens, one of the clear signs that he's quickly gained the trust of his head coach Claude Julien since being called up from Laval.
The young d-man has been more than just a passenger in the last three games for the Canadiens. Julien has given him time considerable time at both even strength and the penalty kill. He played over 21 minutes this past weekend against the Tampa Bay Lightning, especially seeing time as the Canadiens are a man down.
Perhaps the current lineup has forced Julien's hand to trust Juulsen, as he no longer has Shea Weber available to him for the rest of the season. The Canadiens dealing away Joe Morrow also frees up opportunities for him. But with the recent acquisition of Mike Reilly from the Minnesota Wild, it will be intriguing to see where Juulsen will be placed in the lineup. If these three games are any indication, he might be a comfortable regular in the defense pairings between now and the end of the season.